Commission adopts action plan to advance safe and equitable bicycling

Published on July 23, 2019

Bicycle Action Plan Cover photos

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The City Commission this morning adopted a robust Bicycle Action Plan to move Grand Rapids forward as a community where bicycling for transportation and recreation is a safe, comfortable and integral part of daily life. The unanimous vote took place during the City Commission’s Committee of the Whole meeting. The Commission is expected to formalize the vote at its 7 p.m. meeting today.

The 90-page comprehensive Bicycle Action Plan provides recommendations on policies, programs and connected, high-quality bicycling facilities that are accessible for all ages, abilities and socioeconomic levels. It incorporates previous bicycle-related planning and public input to address network connectivity, real and perceived safety concerns and needed policies, programs and activities that support bicycling year-round.

The Bicycle Action Plan carries the City’s Vital Streets initiative and Strategic Plan forward. The Strategic Plan lists priorities to improve the quality of life in Grand Rapids – government excellence, economic prosperity and affordability, engaged and connected community, health and environment, mobility and safe community. These six strategic priorities are further defined by objectives, strategies and metrics, some of which directly or indirectly relate to bicycling and recommendations in the Bicycle Action Plan.  

The Bicycle Action Plan includes: 

  • A proposed bicycle network that is convenient, well-connected and builds on the City’s Vital Streets Plan
  • Recommendations on the type of bikeways that should be developed throughout the city,  including trails, separated bikeways and bicycle boulevards on local streets
  • A broad range of bicycle supportive policies and programs
  • Recommendations for planning, design and performance measures

Kristin Bennett, transportation planning and programs supervisor in the City’s Mobile GR department, told the City Commission that through this plan, the City is embracing a bold vision to create a community where bicycling is safe, attractive, accessible and equitable.

“This Bicycle Action Plan carries our Vital Streets vision forward by identifying and refining the improvements and strategies needed to implement a safe, comfortable and efficient bicycling network with supportive policies and programs that foster a thriving bicycling community,” Bennett said.

Second Ward City Commissioner Ruth Kelly, an avid bicyclist, congratulated the team on its efforts.

“Thanks for all of the hard work you have put into this plan and thanks to the Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition and many members of the community who participated and gave us good feedback,” Kelly said.

Over the past 10 years, the City has invested in improving bicycle conditions through new bike lanes and trails, updating policies and actively educating bicyclists and drivers through the Driving Change safety education program. The City has incorporated bicycling into many community planning efforts and street construction projects, completing a 90-mile bicycle lane network throughout the city. 

The City was honored for the Driving Change program and received a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Communities designation from the League of American Bicyclists. 

In 2013, the City Commission committed to provide a more balanced transportation system by encouraging an increase in bicycling to 2 percent of commuting trips – up from less than 1 percent –  with a goal of 5 percent by 2035. 

Bennett said the goal is attainable and has been achieved by cities that share Grand Rapids’ northern climate such as Minneapolis-St. Paul, Madison, Wisc., and numerous communities throughout Canada.
“A truly bikeable city is one where people ride bicycles because it is a convenient, safe, fun and healthy choice,” Bennett said. “It is a city in which people of all ages and abilities bicycle for any trip purpose – whether commuting to work or school or for one’s health and enjoyment. While some people in Grand Rapids currently ride bicycles, this Bicycle Action Plan aspires to accommodate, support and encourage even more people to ride bicycles in Grand Rapids for whatever purpose they choose.”

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